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Litchfield and Essex

The six New England states maintain fall foliage hot lines, ready to advise visitors when and where to set out on their travels. Some of the particularly popular routes wind through Vermont's Green Mountains, New Hampshire's White Mountains, Massachusetts' Berkshire Hills, Connecticut's Litchfield Hills and the mountain, lake and coastal regions of Maine. The "leaf peeper" season usually starts in the north in mid-September, working its way south to Rhode Island and Connecticut by around mid-October.

To tempt you to become a 'leaf peeper' we have provided a driving route through Connecticut's Litchfield Hills.

This tour, following first Route 202 and then Route 7, meanders through western Connecticut's rolling Litchfield Hills, crosses the Housatonic River by covered bridge, and takes you into historic towns and villages and pretty countryside enhanced by brilliant fall foliage.

Litchfield, at its northern end, boasts a pretty village green, the elegant, white-columned First Congregational Church, North Street lined with stately 18th-century Georgian and Federal homes, and associations with patriot Ethan Allen, author Harriet Beecher Stowe (Uncle Tom's Cabin) and Judge Tapping Reeve, who established America's first law school on the grounds of his home in 1773.

Next on Route 202 comes New Preston, where waterfalls once drove 21 mills; now it's a chic antique centre. At nearby Lake Waramaug a red barn houses the Hopkins Vineyard's winery and shop. From here, you head across country on Routes 45 and 341 to Route 7 and Bull's Bridge, the most recent reincarnation of a covered bridge first built in the 18th century, when it was crossed by George Washington, who paid a considerable amount of money to rescue a horse from the raging Housatonic River, which the bridge spans.

Kent, to the north, once known for its iron foundries, is now associated with the Sloane-Stanley Museum of early hand-crafted tools. Among them is a dog-powered butter churn. You can also take a picnic and hike up to the waterfalls in Kent Falls State Park. The highest in Connecticut, they cascade some 200 feet.

As the valley narrows and the hills become steeper, you come to the village of Cornwall Bridge and Baird's General Store, a popular stopping point for hikers along the Appalachian Trail crossing Route 7 nearby.

Between here and West Cornwall the Housatonic River is spanned by the 242ft long West Cornwall Covered Bridge, the fourth (1837) bridge on the site. Guides can be hired nearby for the excellent fly-fishing along this stretch of the river; and there are also canoes and kayaks to be rented.

About eight miles away on Route 112, Lime Creek Park is popular with drivers testing Formula I and NASCAR vehicles. On Route 44 to the west you can visit the interesting communities of Lakeville, known for its Revolutionary War forge, and Salisbury, known for its tea blenders, manufacturers and tearoom as well as the Salisbury Ski Jump, site of an annual ski jump competition and winter festival. Or you can continue northwards on Route 7 into Massachusetts where you can take other fall foliage tours through the Berkshire Hills.

 This scenic phenomenon has an equal appeal to the thousands of leaf peepers who head out on the highways and byways to witness nature's colourful gesture of defiance to encroaching winter.
This scenic phenomenon has an equal appeal to the thousands of leaf peepers who head out on the highways and byways to witness nature's colourful gesture of defiance to encroaching winter.



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Source: Paul Wade, Discover New England;magazineUSA.com
Last modified: 20070501
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